The Retro Critic


Damn you Skyfall

After talking The Duel last week, I felt that good old James Pond deserved better than a mere cameo mention so here it is: not so much a full-on review of The Pondmeister’s first Genesis game but rather a general look at just how random the whole thing is.

The game starts with a parody of the MGM logo that I can only describe as…

One of Mr Limpet‘s worst nightmares.

Already you start the game not feeling particularly good inside.

So anyway, you’re this fish and you’re going around blowing bubbles at crabs and other sea creatures, picking up random things and going on goofy-ass missions.

The pacing of the game is crazy-fast but the controls are smooth, the animation’s great and it’s all pretty colorful not to mention full of lols so all in all it’s a good game! Great fun to play. Half the time you’re not sure what’s actually going on but you have a ball regardless.


Um… cool, fine… whatever.

I mean, look at the following screenshot and tell me what you think’s happening:

OIL lol

Go ahead, try it.

I mean, ok. I’ll admit taking anything out of context from that game is gonna lead to confusion but it’s just so much fun! Because when you’re playing it, the game kinda makes sense, you get sucked into it and you ignore just how messed-up it actually is but looking back…


But it’s not like The Three Stooges game which tried to have a sense a humour but failed because of how unplayable it was, James Pond is smooth sailing all the way. Which is not to say it’s an easy game: it’s pretty relentless so you do have to pay attention. After all, these aren’t just ANY missions you’re made to go on, these are proper international threats you’re battling!

Bad example.

Come on, they just wanted a Licence To Kill pun in there. Let’s look at another, fuller mission.

See! Saving seals. Case and point.

Wait, what?

Um… they could still find Atlantis, you know. It’s unlikely but I’m not ruling it out! And when they do you don’t want those vases to fall into the wrong hands… right?

Alright, it’s Top 10 time! Here is my Top 10 Favourite Weird-Ass James Pond Creatures:


Badass Vampire Fish

This guy doesn’t take crap from anyone. He’s got his glue, he’s got his shrooms, he’s wearing a sleeveless leather jacket. Don’t mess with him.


Trenchcoat Dude

Not sure what this guy’s deal is. Private detective? Fish flasher? Who knows…


 Eel/Sea-Snake Guy

Looks aren’t everything.


Miserable Frog Lizard

I’ve never seen anything this unhappy. Unless that’s a mustache and he’s just staring…



They’ve got the best name and they know it. Look at those smug bastards.


Dolphin Slaves

Poor dolphins, you spend like an entire level riding them. And you don’t even tip ’em.



Come on! When are we ever this douchey-lookin’?



I guess I’d be pissed too if my face was made of leafs.

(unless that’s also a mustache and he’s just staring, of course)


Mad Hatter Snowman 

Are we still underwater at this point? I’m guessing we are since we’re a fish and all but whether we are or not: what’s with that snowman?! What’s so scary? Is it the teeth?




I just love this guy so much. That flower is SOOOO scared! And it’s staring right at us, right into our souls as if to say: “Dude, what the hell?”.

I can relate.

Honorable mention to Balding Scientist Guy, by the way, who just missed out on the number 10 spot:

So that’s my James Pond mini-Top 10, feel free to share your favorites in the comments below. ;)

Another thing I could Top 10 (I won’t) that I find interesting about the game is the choices it makes in terms of pickups and objects in general. Ok, you’re underwater, what do you expect to find? Besides fish.

Pebbles? Plankton? Seaweed?

How about…

…an “I Heart New York” mug?!

Or better still:

Several green teapots neatly aligned deep underwater? No?

Come on! They’re great!

I love the seabed, it’s like a flea market down there!

Get down here! We’re literally giving bones away!

But seriously, the glue/shrooms combo makes more and more sense as you go through the game.  The very sight of Pond, James Pond carrying random stuff is enough to make this one of the most entertainingly surreal games on the Genesis.





It’s funny because he’s a fish.

The game ends just like you’d expect:

Don’t worry, unlike that other spy we all know and love, it doesn’t end with Pond mounting another one of its kind on a boat as we fade to black.

So that’s James Pond, ladies and gentlemen, a rollercoaster-ride of sea-themed spy spoof nonsense which is a feast for the eyes and a fun, challenging gaming experience all around. Who knew that bad puns could actually inspire anything other than sighs of despair?

There IS a sequel, James Pond 2: Codename RoboCod, but I won’t go into it right this second as it’s equally as messed-up and as good as the original so I’ll give it its own proper review some other time.

What? You want a taste?

Hm, alright fine:

It’s gonna be great :D

James Pond WILL return.